A very busy weekend in sports here in the state of Arizona. We had Arizona State football end the month of November a mind-boggling 0-4 after going into the month all but locked into the Pac 12 Championship game. Arizona State basketball showing how this will be a long season. The Phoenix Coyotes showing they will be a force. The Arizona Cardinals looking like they are slowly building something special and the Phoenix Suns getting ready to tip-off on Christmas day.
Dennis Erickson has officially been let go as the head coach of Arizona State football after losing to UCLA, Washington State, Arizona, and California. California will be the only team playing in a bowl game out of those four teams. (UCLA is in the pac-12 title game by default of USC being banned from postseason play for this season and with their eventual loss to Oregon they will be 6-7 which will make them ineligible for a bowl since they would have a losing record.) If Arizona State just wins one of those games they would be playing for the chance to go to the Rose bowl. Instead they will likely be playing in the Whatever it is called Vegas Bowl. The problem was not Erickson, but unfortunately after a slide like that the head coach must take the fall. Arizona State is filled with a bunch of head cases which creates chemistry issues. Good chemistry teams bounce back after that first loss of the losing streak to UCLA. Bad chemistry and it can all fall apart with just one loss like it did for this team. We will always remember this season for the promise of what could have been for Arizona State football.
Arizona State basketball has so many issues right now it is amazing. To be fair I watched about one half of a game this season so I could be totally wrong with my analysis. My analysis is outside of Trent Lockett their is not much talent on this team. They got some seven-foot white guy who looks like a walking stiff. They have little scoring and no excitement on offense. Their top recruit Jahii Carson out of Mesa High School is still not eligible to play. Where is the recruiting from Herb Sendek? Where is the James Hardens or Jeff Pendergraphs?? Another long season is in store for the Herbivores and his job could be in jeopardy if it doesn’t start getting better in Tempe.
The Cardinals defeated the Rams 23-20 to improve to 4-7 on Sunday. The Cards have got to be kicking themselves to the four games that they blew to start the year to Washington, Seattle, New York, and Baltimore. If they split those or even just win one of those four they could be in the playoff picture right now. The lockout really stunted the defense to begin the year because it is like night and day the difference of this defense. Sam Acho now has five sacks on the year with playing only 6 games really. THe continued growth of Daryl Washington into a top linebacker. And the pass rush of Calais Campbell. This defense has some pieces in place and as they continue to grow and add pieces here and there this could be a very nice defense for years to come. On offense Kevin Kolb should be back this week and this will be the biggest month of his career. He has to show that he can lead this team over these last 5 games, four of which will be at home. Early Doucet has developed into a solid slot guy with Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts has improved. Beanie Wells showed the potential he has yesterday if he can stay healthy, so really that leaves the offensive line as the Cards biggest need to address this offense if Kevin Kolb can show improvement over these last few weeks. The Cards can finish 7-9 or even 8-8 which can create great momentum going into next season.
The Coyotes have been very impressive through the first month and a half this season. They have added some scoring to go along with their defense and great goaltending that they rely on to win games. Mike Smith has been a huge addition at goaltender averaging about only 2 goals a game and giving the Yotes great play in goal. Shane Doan has been his fantastic self with Radim Vrbata leading the team with 11 goals. Kieth Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson lead the defense and this team will be battling with the Kings, Stars, and Sharks for the Pacific Division title this season.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is finding all those deals today on Black Friday. Here are my Week 12 Quick Picks of Sunday’s games…By the way with my 3-0 start to the week the hope is there for the perfect weekend! Here are the picks….
Lock of the Week
Minnesota Vikings 13 at Atlanta Falcons 27
If Adrian Peterson does not play do the Vikings have a chance to win at all the rest of this season??
Arizona Cardinals 17 at St.Louis Rams 13
Kevin Kolb may be back in the lineup making these last 6 games the biggest of his career to keep his job going into next season. By the way did you know Sam Bradford has only 5 touchdowns this season?
Carolina Panthers 28 at Indianapolis Colts 14
Colts are running out of chances…..
Buffalo Bills 10 at New York Jets 20
Bills are too beat up to pull out the upset in New York. It was fun while it lasted in Buffalo.
Houston Texans 19 at Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Matt Leinart finally gets his chance to show he can be a starting NFL Quarterback. The Texans have enough talent around him to squeak pass the Jags.
Toss up of the week
Tampa Bay Buccanears 24 at Tennessee Titans 20
This game can go a majority of ways. Matt Hasselback is banged up and Chris Johnson has as much motivation as I have to study spanish, so I am going with the team that can play Green Bay tough on the road.
Chicago Bears 10 at Oakland Raiders 17
Not really an upset with the Bears starting Caleb Hanie, but the Bears are good enough to still win this game and would not be surprised if they did.
Denver Broncos 9 at San Diego Chargers 27
Tim Tebow needs a reality check soon and the Chargers need to win soon. Those two collide this Sunday in San Diego and the Chargers win easily
Washington Redskins 14 at Seattle Seahawks 21
Seattle is a tough place for teams traveling from the east (ask Baltimore). It is especially tough if you have a bad team.
New England Patriots 31 at Philadelphia Eagles 17
With news that Asomugha got carted off practice yesterday and the lingering injuries to DRC the Eagles “vaunted” suddenly is looking pretty nice for Mr. Brady.
Sunday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 at Kansas City Chiefs 13
Why did the NFL not flex this game out of the Sunday Night schedule???
Monday Night Football
New York Giants 21 at New Orleans Saints 28
I can’t predict the Giants this season. For all Giants games I would just pick the opposite of me for the rest of this season.
This Week: 3-0
What am I thankful for? That is the question I ask myself every Thanksgiving when I wake up as watch some of the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade until football starts. By the way we have some great football games this year on Thanksgiving. Even the “dinner break” game we thought we were getting between the Cowboys and Dolphins is now a bit intriguing by the fact of the Dolphins 3 game winning streak. But, until I get down to my Turkey Day picks I would like to share with you what I am grateful for this year. My list is in no particular order in case you are wondering.
I am thankful for my health. Our health can be taken from us at anytime. For example, my cousins good friend just got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She is a sophomore in high school and has less than a year to live. I pray every day for her and I hope all of you can take a few seconds out of your day to pray for this girl and reflect on your health and how lucky “we” have it to be able to know we have a full life ahead of us.
I am thankful for the ability to be writing these posts for you every week.
I am thankful for fantasy football.
I am thankful for football in general.
I am thankful for my dog Sparky.
I am thankful for a great group of friends that I have. I can count on all of them for anything at any time of day and I am very lucky to have a luxury of having so many friends like that in my life.
I am thankful for the NBA not playing this year due to ego issues. No NBA = another year of Lebron not getting a championship.
I am thankful for the Arizona Cardinals. All of my best memories growing up are of going to Cardinals games with my family.
I am thankful for my job. I may talk down about the Hut many times, but I am thankful to have a job and to work with some great people.
I am thankful for my girlfriend. She is the most amazing and sweetest person in the world and am lucky to have her in my life.
I am thankful for the holiday season.
I am thankful for my entire family. Our love as a family gives me the courage and motivation to go out and live my life and to be the best person that I can be.
I am thankful for everyone reading what I am thankful for when in reality you could care less. I will finally get onto the picks for Thanksgiving day football.
Green Bay Packers 31 at Detroit Lions 26
Did you know the Lions have played on Thanksgiving every year since 1934? I bet you didn’t even know they played on Turkey day since Barry Sanders retired. Well, the Lions are relevent again and playing a huge game against the undefeated and hated Green Bay Packers. Once the emotions settle down a bit I can’t see the Lions defense stopping Rodgers and the Packers defense will do just enough to keep the Lions from outscoring the Packers and to keep the Pack undefeated.
Miami Dolphins 20 at Dallas Cowboys 30
The Miami Dolphins have not only lost Andrew Luck, but they are on the verge of losing out on any other quarterback in the draft if they keep this up. They have won 3 straight games and Matt Moore looks to be their quarterback of the future. If the Cowboys get ahead big in this one at least most of us have a fantasy player or two on the Cowboys and hopefully they can all share the touchdowns for us (Demarco Murray).
San Fransisco 49ers 16 at Baltimore Ravens 24
The “Harbaugh Bowl” is a great way to end the night unless you are a Cardinals or Steelers fan and can not stand the sight of seeing success for either of these teams. Any time they talk about these teams I have to turn off the TVs because of my hatred for the 49ers. Not going to lie that this is a bias pick and my hope the Niners can finally lose again. For the record the Niners will not be making a playoff run by kicking field goals all game.
The rest of my picks will be up on Friday…hopefully I can be bragging about a perfect day of picks.
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and hope everyone has a great day with those closest to them.
Why did the Denver Broncos beat the New York Jets last night? A better question should be, How did the Denver Broncos beat the New York Jets? That answer is very simple actually. The players on the Broncos believed more in their quarterback than the Jets believed in theirs. The Broncos KNEW that Tebow was going to somehow find a way to give them a chance to win while the Jets KNEW that Sanchez would do something to make it harder on themselves. Raise your hand if you were shocked when Sanchez threw that Pick SIx??? (Crickets) Raise your hand if you were expecting Tebow magic on his game winning drive?? Everyone is raising their hand right now. The Jets can not be a playoff team with Mark Sanchez unless they have a strong running game anda strong defense and the Jets have neither this year.
Good thing I did not choose this game or it would have given me another loss. I have been struggling the last couple of weeks, though I got saved calling my upset of the Seahawks over the Ravens. This week I guarantee a winning record and if that is not achieved I will do some “Tebowing” every day next week. Now on to the picks….
Dallas Cowboys 27 at Washington Redskins 17
The Redskins keep this competitive since they are at home and this is a rivalry game, but they are just too anemic on offense to win. The Redskins need a quarterback more than anyone in the draft and it would probably be best for everyone involved to lose out and get Matt Barkley.
Carolina Panthers 24 at Detroit Lions 20
I struggled with this one and it could even be my upset special, but with reports the Stafford is playing with a broken finer on his throwing hand and seeing the disaster in Chicago last week to back that up on top of the Lions looking ahead to their HUGE game on Thanksgiving with the Packers I can see the Panthers quietly coming in here and leaving even quieter with the victory. The Panthers game last week could have been totally different had Greg Olsen not fumbled inside the ten when it was only a 7-0 game. I do not buy the fact that Cam Newton is tiring out yet. The Lions had a wakeup call in Chicago last week and we will see if they are mature enough to bounce back at home.
Lock of the Week
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 at Green Bay Packers 34
I have lost 3 “Lck of the Weeks” games so I may have inadvertantly put the Pack on upset alert. That is if the Packers offense can be stopped and I don’t see that happening this week. I think I have figured out the why Josh Freeman and the Bucs are struggling so much this year question. Look at this brutal stretch they are in right now starting in Week 5 @ 8-1 SF, Week 6, 7-3 New Orleans, Week 7 6-3 Chicago in London, Week 8 was a bye, Week 9 @ 7-3 NO, Week 10 7-3 Houston, Week 11 9-0 Green Bay. That is why Josh Freeman and the rest of your Tampa Bay Buccanears are struggling this season.
Toss up of the week
Oakland Raiders 24 at Minnesota Vikings 17
I have no idea how to pick this one so I am going to pick this based off the fact that Carson Palmer looks to be back in form for the Oakland Raiders. When they get Darren Mcfadden back the Raiders should be back in the playoffs if they can hold off the Denver Tebow’s. A fun fact I learned during last week’s Packer VIkings game was the Vikings currently do not have a stadium for next season. Does Minnesota not realize that Los Angeles is aggressively waiting for a team to fall in their laps? They better get their act together real soon or the VIkings will become the Los Angeles VIkings real soon.
Buffalo 26 at Miami Dolphins 16
The Dolphins are a blown lead to Tim Tebow, a blown lead in the final seconds to Cleveland, and a blown lead in the 4th to the GIants from actually being 5-4 and in the playoff discussion. They are not as bad as everyone is perceiving them to be. The BIlls seem to be doing their annual suck the life out of Buffalo after they give them some excitement routine. My man Fitzpatrick comes back to form and the Bills outscore the Dolphins in this one.
Jacksonville Jaguars 12 at Cleveland Browns 15
Things that top the list of things I would rather do than watch this game are this week see the movie Twilight while this game is being played. Besides MJD is their even any fantasy players in this game? Both kickers should be picked up in fantasy leagues because this will be a field goal shootout.
Cincinnatti Bengals 20 at Baltimore Ravens 28
Joe Flacco had 52 pass attempts last week and only threw for 254 yards. How do you not put up at least 300 Joe?? On a more important note Ray Lewis is expected to miss his first game since 2007 with a foot injury. Are the Ravens the same defense without Ray Lewis?? We will soon find out.
Arizona Cardinals 20 at San Fransisco 49ers 17
This is one of the more underrated rivalries in football. These teams hate each other badly. Cardinals Defensive Tackle Darnell Dockett says it best according to quotes from Dan Bickley, “I can’t (bleeping) stand the 49ers and they can’t stand me either.” Darnell Dockett does not even shake hands with the 49ers before or after games. There is so much hate that former 49er David Bass now with the Giants said that he was most excited to see Arizona on the schedule because of how much he hated them. That is the sign of a rivalry. The Cardinals will be playing this as their Super Bowl while the Niners have much more important games this season including the Harbaugh bowl in Baltimore on Thanksgiving night. If John Skelton wins this one and then if they can beat St. Louis next week the Cardinals will return home at 5-6 with four of five games remaining at home. (Kevin Garnetts voice) ANYTHING IS POSSSSAAABBBBLLEEEEEE!!!!!
Seattle 9 at St. Louis Rams 21
The Seahawks go back to their losing ways away from Seattle. I also think this will be the week Sam Bradford breaks out. He has to one of these days right??
Game of the Week
Tennessee Titans 24 at Atlanta Falcons 31
This is a big game for both of these teams. The Titans are 2 games behind the Texans who now have Matt Leinart playing Quarterback for the rest of the year. That race is nowhere near over in the AFC South. The Falcons are 5-4 and need a win to keep pace not only in their division, but in the Wildcard race as well.
San Diego Chargers 31 at Chicago Bears 27
I am not picking this game on logic at all. The Chargers had 4 of their 5 offensive lineman miss practice on Wednesday and coming off a home loss to the Raiders while the Bears are coming off a couple of huge wins. I am picking the Chargers based on Phillip Rivers having a classic Rivers day and winging it around the field like he is capable of doing. I also have my fantasy hopes relying on RIvers so some of this may be wishful thinking.
Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia Eagles 13 at New York Giants 24
This game is not pickable unless we know Mike Vick is playing… Actually yes it is the Giants will win this game regardless of who is playing. The Eagles have reached that level. I have never seen a team as soft as the Eagles are. The Arizona Cardinals defense looked like a Top-5 defense last week against the Eagles. You had Steve smith actually fall down a yard short on a 3rd and long play when he easily could have made it if he would have taken a hit. I am not making this up either. Then again as soon as you give up on Mike VIck he comes up with a huge game and as soon as you feel comfortable picking Eli Manning he comes up with a terrible game. I will move on to the next game before I talk myself into the Eagles again.
Monday Night Football
Kansas City Chiefs 10 at New England Patriots 35
I hope Tirico, Gruden and Jaws have their blowout material ready again this week. Tyler Palko is going to be the QB for the Chiefs for probably the rest of the season. Palko played college ball at Pitt with Larry FItzgerald and he is also Larry’s traveling QB. Yes Traveling QB. He vacations with Fitzgerald during the offseason so Larry can work out and have someone throw balls to him. Unfortunately that will not help him out facing Tom Brady in New England on Monday NIght Football.
Thanks for reading my blog everyone and you can now follow me on Twitter @jesanders11 if you want my opinion from around sports throughout the week.
Last Week: 7-8
If I were in Vegas betting games this week I would stay away from the majority of these games. I have Denver and Kansas CIty as the “Coin Flip” of the week, but there are many games that could go either way. I would not be surprised if I went 5-10 or 10-5 this week. I am also going to apologize now for the shortness of this week’s post. I am a busy person on this holiday weekend so without further ado on to the picks!!
New Orleans Saints 24 at Atlanta Falcons 26
There are two Saints team….The “dome” Saints are almost unbeatable. The “away from the dome” Saints are very beatable. Atlanta wins this at home on a field goal in the final minute.
Pittsburgh Steelers 20 at Cincinnati Bengals 13
The Bengals are 6-2, but getting no national press and here is why: Their six wins are against the Browns, Bills, Jaguars, Colts, Seahawks, and Titans. If they can beat Pittsburgh they will start getting their national recognition.
St. Louis Rams 16 at Cleveland Browns 10
Things that I would rather do than be forced to watch this game include….watch ice skating, go to an opera, watch a Harry Potter movie, and I would even rather actually study for school than be forced to watch this game.
Buffalo Bills 28 at Dallas Cowboys 31
Keep giving the ball to Demarco Murray!!! The Bills have one of the leagues worst run defenses giving up the 8th most fantasy points to running backs in football, so it would just make great sense to keep feeding him the rock all game. (Yes, I do have Murray on my fantasy team so that was a bit of a biased reaction.)
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at Indianapolis Colts 24
If not now when for the Colts???? Also, Thank you to the NFL for already flexing out the Colts Patriots Sunday Night game in a few weeks. We have had enough of the Curtis Painter show.
Coin Flip of the Week
Denver Broncos 17 at Kansas City Chiefs 23
The Denver Broncos are about to unleash an option attack never before seen in the NFL…This will either be unstoppable or a disaster with no in between.
Lock of the week
Arizona Cardinals 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 38
The Cardinals only shot in this game is if they can force some turnovers and get some good field position. If they do not force any turnovers than Mike Vick and Lesean Mccoy will have their way with the Cardinals defense.
Washington Redskins 12 at Miami Dolphins 17
And the home losing streak is over for those Dolphins!! How amazing is it that the DOlphins are 1-12 in their last 13 home games? Is that a reflection on the team or the fans for not giving the players a home field advantage? That is Cardinals when they were at Sun Devil Stadium status.
Houston Texans 21 at Tampa Bay Buccanears 28
In a matchup like this I look for the more desperate team and the team playing at home. Tampa fits both of those categories coming off a couple of losses and catch Houston with a nice lead in their division and looking towards their bye week.
Tennessee Titans 20 at Carolina Panthers 31
I do not think the Titans can keep up with the Cam Newton express in this one. The Titans win the 20-17 kind of games….not the first one to 30 type of game. This could be the game Chris Johnson decides to start his NFL season though and that would be an exciting development for the Titans and CJ2K fantasy owners.
Baltimore Ravens 20 at Seattle Seahawks 23
This may be where I get told I know nothing about football…here me out though. This is a tough game for any east coast team flying coast to coast going to Seattle. The Seahwaks fans will get up for this game and if Seattle can keep it close they very well may pull it out at the end. Baltimore is also coming off a very emotional win Sunday night in Pittsburgh and Flacco is the perfect QB to give Seattle that fluke pick six early that gives them the momentum to pull the upset. Seattle is due for one of those home upsets that they always pull in Seattle and I am calling it this week as my upset special.
Detroit Lions 24 at Chicago Bears 27
Jay Cutler has done the most out of any Quarterback in football this year with the the least amount of talent on his football team. Take Jay Cutler off this team and the Bears would be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Bears win this on a late field goal.
New York Giants 20 at San Fransisco 49ers 17
This would be a classic Eli no-show after a great game the week before, but I still think the Giants win on the road. The 49ers just need to show up for the rest of the year and they are going to the playoffs, so they will not have as much urgency until the playoffs start just like the Cardinals during their Super Bowl year when they got blown out 4 of the last 6 games. Giants need this game a little more than the Niners.
Game of the week
New England Patriots 21 at New York Jets 30
The Jets looked very good in their beat down of the Bills last week. The Patriots have looked very mediocre in their back to back losses to Pittsburgh and the Giants. So the question is, Do the Jets lose both games to the Patriots this year or do the Patriots lose 3 games in a row for the first time since…ever?? However you answer that question will probably influence who you have winning this game.
Monday NIght Football
Minnesota Vikings 17 at Green Bay Packers 34
The Packers march to an undefeated season continues on Monday Night Football.
Last week 6-7
Happy Veterans day to all of the Veterans today. You guys are the real heros in this country and you deserve this day of honor for what you do for our country.
Sunday morning before I went to the Cardinals Rams game I was having a conversation with my girlfriend wondering why do I watch sports. Why do I care so about my teams and why do I get so aggravated after losses. This was after watching ASU put their season in jeopardy with an awful and embarrassing loss to UCLA and prior to going to see the 1-6 Cardinals play the 1-6 Rams. I texted my girlfriend wishing I was born into a family of artists so I would never have any aggravation in my life. I could just paint pictures and spend Sundays with my girlfriend and live a life full of happiness. Instead I was forced, by the nature of spending a lot of money on season tickets, to watch two awful 1-6 teams play a meaningless football game on a perfect Sunday afternoon. Little did I know I was about to witness one of the greatest moments and games I have ever been too.
The first half went by without much excitement. The Cards trailed 9-3 and the best part of the half were the fans a few seats from me and my brother giving us some great comedy. I was thinking this would be my only memory of this game. Then the third quarter came and went by with a combined 7 points scored, but it was not by a touchdown like you would think. Cardinals backup quarterback John Skelton gave the Rams two safeties on CONSECUTIVE offensive plays. This gave me and my brother great comedy and gave us something to remember this game by. But something very weird happened after that second safety that put the Cards down 13-6. The crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium became offended by what they were seeing. The crowd instantly woke up after the second safety and went into a, “There is no effing way we are letting the Cardinals lose this game, to this team, in this embarrassing fashion” mode.
“We” the fans would have been fine with a 20-10 loss. We already have come to grips this is a lost season for the Cardinals and with John Skelton starting at QB we had no expectations going into the game. After that second safety though, we had enough and the crowd woke up. Fans broke into multiple “Let’s Go Cards” chants….almost willing this team to come back and win this game. Then the magic started. John Skelton breaks a couple 10 plus yard runs and then throws a laser to Larry Legend in the back of the end zone to tie the game and the crowd went into an absolute frenzy. The “Nest” was back and rocking like the Kurt Warner days and everyone was having a great time. The Rams of course go down the field and have a 3rd and inches with a 1:52 left already in field goal range. A first down and the Rams can knee down and kick the field goal and get out-of-town. The Cards stuff them and force a 4th down. Then for some reason the Rams run the same play instead of kicking the field goal and the Cards stop them AGAIN! Now the Nest is really rocking. A quick 15 yard completion to Larry Legend gets them to midfield and everyone is jumping up and down not believing what they were seeing. What happens next is the reason why I do watch sports.
Of course Skelton throws behind Larry, takes a huge sack, and throws a dumpoff that gives the Rams the ball back. And of course the Rams go right down the field in under a minute to set up Rams kicker Josh Brown, who has 8 career game winning kicks, for a rather easy field goal for him. I have to admit here I gave up at this point and made my brother go up the stairs so we could beat traffic as soon as he made the kick. As we were waiting for defeat I got this feeling that something was going to happen. There was such a weird vibe that this game would end in some sort of weird way and a field goal was not how this game was going to end. Sure enough 6″8 Calais Campbell blocks the kick sending the game into overtime and sending me, my brother, and everyone else running back to their seats yelling like crazy.
Every time Patrick Peterson went back to field a punt the crowd stood up yesterday. Even during the boringness of the first half, the few times the crowd got into it was when Peterson was going back to return a punt. The Rams started overtime by not doing much and being forced to punt the ball. I turned to my brother and told him he was going to be tackled if somehow Peterson took this punt back. I do not even remember what he said because pretty soon I saw Peterson catch the ball and cut to the right and all we saw was two Rams to beat and A LOT of open field. I have never seen a crowd go crazier then what I witnessed when he broke that last tackle. Sunglasses flew everywhere, high fives flying everywhere,people jumping up and down on seats, guys hugging each other, people who do not know each other hugging like they were family, complete bedlam all around. Patrick Peterson just scored off a 99 yard punt return….ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!
Walking out the stadium I answered my own question as to why I watch sports. For the few moments that ,we, as sports fans get to witness like that makes all the crap and aggravation we go through worth it. In the magnitude of things this win will only cost the Cardinals draft spots in the draft as they are destined for a 5-11 mark, but this game gave us me and my brother so much more than draft picks or another win. It gave us a memory that we will always be able to share together. The joy and excitement we got and shared together as Patrick Peterson ran down the sidelines was worth every penny that I spent on tickets this year and is the reason why I am passionate and love sports so much….for those few moments that we get to share with someone at a game that will last a lifetime.
I am mixing things up this week in the Sports Zone with my picks column. Instead of my traditional picks with comments I am doing a Power Rankings column with picks. If you just want my picks scroll down to the bottom of this page. My criteria for the rankings is simple…. who would win right now on a neutral field. Not who will win in January or who would have won last month, but who will win if the teams played this Sunday. We are halfway through the NFL year with week nine approaching, so I think this is a perfect time to figure who will be contending and who will not be contending this year down the stretch.
Andrew Luck Division
(Teams in play for Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck)
32. Indianapolis Colts
What a decision the Colts may possibly have for themselves this coming April. If they do end up with the first pick in the NFL Draft will they take Andrew Luck? The pros of course are you have your next Quarterback for the next decade once Manning retires and the con is you are not getting your team better to make another run at the Super Bowl with a healthy Peyton Manning. If I am the Colts I think I am taking Luck after weighing the options. Manning is in his mid 30’s now and he has some health issues with his neck. All it takes is one more wrong hit to his neck and his career would end instantly. If the Colts have the first pick they have got to take Andrew Luck.
31. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have been much more competitive than the Colts this year which gives them the nod over Indianapolis. Head Coach Tony Sparano is one more uninspiring performance away from being whacked in Miami, but the team keeps fighting hard for him and that is always a good reflection on you when your team has yet to give up on you. I think they can win this week in Kansas City which would badly hurt themselves for Andrew Luck, so in a situation like the Dolphins are in don’t you fire a coach that the team is playing hard for to deinspire (if that is a word) the players from winning??
30. Denver Broncos
The Broncos will not be getting the top pick, but they will be getting a top five pick again in the draft. Tebow mania may be on life support after the performance he had last week against the Detroit Lions. Especially after an unnamed Lions defender was quoted saying something like, “is this guy serious out there?” People have to accept Tebow for what he is and not for what he is not. Tebow is a guy with a lot of passion and heart for the game. He is a great leader with a great work ethic. He can run and make plays out of nothing. He is not an accurate thrower and has a horrible delivery throwing the ball. Tebow can probably last around as a pretty decent backup for his career, but I don’t think he can be a starting Quarterback in this league and I think the Broncos have figured that out already.
29. Arizona Cardinals
The sleeper pick for Andrew Luck!!!! If they lose this week at home to the Rams they will become serious contenders in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. That is also becoming a huge possibility with reports being John Skelton will be the starting QB this week. After this week they go on the road for three straight games against Philly, Frisco, and St. Louis again before they come home for Dallas and Frisco. They can easily be sitting at 1-12 or 2-11 if they lose this week and at the point they will probably shut Beanie Wells down (Beanie has a knee injury that will stay with him all year, so if they have nothing to play for my guess is they will shut him down.) and give John Skelton some starts down the stretch that features Cleveland at home. at Cincy, and Seattle at home. If they lose I am saying they finish at 3-13 and I read somewhere that they would hold any tiebreaker for the first pick if they had the same record with Indianapolis or Miami. Of course they will go 4-12 and get the fourth pick in the draft.
Cam Gabbert-Ponder Division
(Rookie Quarterbacks from last year’s draft)
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
I was just thinking the other day that I do not think I have ever met a Jacksonville Jaguar fan. I do not think I have ever seen a person where a Jaguars jersey let alone know a fan. This is probably why they will be the Los Angeles Jaguars within the next five years.
27. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are set for the next decade as long as they build around Cam Newton properly. Right now they are just missing a couple of players on defense from that happening. They are also waiting on the zombies of Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams to wakeup. Once they get the run game going again and start playing defense this team will be very tough to beat.
26. Minnesota Vikings
Charlie Ponder has played surpringsly well in his first two start against the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. If Ponder can prove to be their guy, with a couple of breaks next year and a good draft the Vikings could be contending for a playoff spot next year. They have a solid core group with A.P., Jared Allen, and Chad Greenway and just need to add a piece here and there and the Vikings will be contending again in the near future.
Teams that were expected to contend with 7 wins before the 49ers ruined their chances division
25. Seattle Seahawks
The first player to agree to a contract with a team when the lockout was lifted back in July was….Tavaris Jackson with Seattle. The first quarterback signed was Tavaris Jackson. Matt Hasselback, for some reason was not good enough for Seattle so they went the Tavaris Jackson route. Sometimes you wonder how people get to make NFL personnel decisions like that when 95 percent of the population would have kept Matt Hasselback.
24. St. Louis Rams
The Rams are much better than their 1-6 record suggest. They had a brutal start to the season and they finally get to play some easier games. They will finish with 5 to 6 wins this year and get another top ten pick in the draft.
Madden Cover Division
(Teams that have been hit with injuries)
23. Cleveland Browns
Peyton Hillis wants to get paid. The only problem is teams are hesitant to give running backs big contracts. (See Chris Johnson) Running Back may be one of the most replaceable player in sports. Unless you are Adrian Peterson, Lesean Mccoy, Matt Forte, or Ray Rice I am not paying you long-term. Hillis is out of luck if he wants a long-term deal in Cleveland. That may actually be a blessing in disguise for Hillis because he can go to a team with a chance to win in the next few years instead of rotting away with the Browns.
22. Washington Redskins
The Redskins three wins this year are against the overrated New York Giants at home, barely getting by a one win Cardinals team at home, and squeaking out a win on the road against the Rams. They are currently starting John Beck, have lost leading reciever Santana Moss to an injury, lost Chris Cooley and Tim Hightower to injuries, and have also lost some key guys on the offensive line to injuries. Bottom line they were a mediocre team who lost a bunch of starters to injuries making them a bad team.
21. Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson has got to be the biggest non-injury fantasy disappointment in history let alone actual team disappointment. This is defiantly a guy playing to not get injured and taking in the money.
Al Davis Division
(In memory of NFL legend Al Davis)
20. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have traded their first round pick for Carson Palmer, third round pick for Terrele Pryor, and fourth round pick for Jason Campbell in next years draft. The Raiders better hope Carson Palmer can bring them to the playoffs with all those draft picks gone.
19. Kansas City Chiefs
How are the Chargers ranked ahead of the Chiefs when the Cheifs just beat them? Because like I said last week the Chargers will now officially request to the NFL offices to never have to play in Kansas CIty on Monday Night Football again after losing two fluke games in a row there on Monday Night. Like I said before I have the Chiefs on upset watch this week against the winless Dolphins.
18. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers is long overdue to breakout into the Pro Bowl Quarterback that he is. My money is still on the Chargers to win that division and make the playoffs, but they can’t do that until Rivers decides to stop turning the ball over.
New York Division
17. New York Jets
16. New York Giants
These two team are the most overrated teams in the league. The Jets have a mediocre run game with a mediocre quarterback and a mediocre defense. The Giants lost at home to Seattle and was on the verge of losing at home to Miami. Eli Manning is still either very good, or very bad. I just wish he was bad Eli in Arizona instead of being bad Eli for Seattle. Anyways, I do not think either of these teams reach the playoffs and I would bet big on Philly or Dallas catching th Giants in the East.
15. Tampa Bay buccaneers
Josh Freeman has regressed a bit this season. He threw only 6 picks all of last year, this year he already has ten through seven games. If Freeman returns to 2010 Freeman the Bucs will be in contention through December, but if he continues at this route the Bucs season is doomed.
14. Chicago Bears
Can somebody give Jay Cutler a wide receiver to throw the ball too other than his running back?? Can somebody also block somebody on that offensive line for the guy?? If you watched the Monday Night game against Detroit last month then you saw the greatest performance by a quarterback with no other talent on the field with him. He was like a little kid playing against the big kids on the playground. He would catch the snap and imminently run backwards and just throw it somewhere. It was amazing the Bears only lost by 11 that game.
13. Cincinnati Bengals
I think it is safe to say they will be saying many Dalton to Green Touchdowns for the next ten years.
12. Dallas Cowboys
If this team can ever just put it all together for a couple of months they would be a very tough out in January. Tony Romo needs to prove he can win the big game on the national stage, Dez Bryant needs to mature and show up in EVERY game, and the defense needs to actually force a team to punt every once in a while or get a stop to get the offense on the field unlike last week at Philadelphia when they had the ball for something like 40 minutes of possession last week. This team has the potential, but will they ever get to it?
11. Buffalo Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the man here in the Sports Zone. The guy went to high school out here at Highland High School and then went off to get a degree at Harvard before finally latching on with the Bills and just recently signed a long-term deal to be the Bills Quarterback for the next five years. If there was not already another Fitzy out there for me you definitely would have Fitzy status.
10. Houston Texans
The texans have yet to play a full game with both Arian Foster and Andre Johnson on offense, yet they are sitting pretty in the AFC South at 5-3. I hope the Texans can have everything clinched and locked up by week 17 so we can get another start by Matt Leinart.
Alex Smith division
(Teams that have been surprises this year)
9. Detroit Lions
If you picked Calvin Johnson in your fantasy draft your team is probably making the playoffs. I had a chance between Bradford or Stafford as my backup quarterback in my draft and I took Bradford….regretted that move every second since then.
8. San Fransisco 49ers
It pains me to write about how good they have been this year. Instead of talking about it I just named the division after your quarterback…is that good enough???
Dream Team division
7. Philadelphia Eagles
I still think this team will finish with ten wins and make the playoffs and at the very least make the NFC Championship game as long as Vick stays healthy. They had their bumps and I think they have it figured out now and this is a team ready to go on a tear.
6. Atlanta Falcons
They have spent the first half of the season just “getting through” the weeks. That attitude still got them a 4-3 record. Coming off the bye they will find their mojo they had last year and turn it into another double digit wins season.
5. New Orleans Saints
There are two Saints teams….the Saints when they are in the Dome, and the Saints when they are not in the Dome. Unfortunately to get to the Super Bowl they will have to win in the frigid tundra of Green Bay.
4. New England Patriots
It is very possible for the Patriots to never get back to the Super Bowl in the Tom Brady era. The night before Super Bowl 42, Patriots fans were sitting on an undefeated season, and a 4th Super Bowl in six years. The next day as the say the rest is history. Pats get upset, next year Bernard Pollard rams into Brady’s knee knocking him out for the year and they Pats have never been back.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Steelers will win Sunday night at home so the next thing we have to look forward to is the rematch in the AFC Title game. I am getting excited just thinking about these teams playing again with the Super Bowl on the line.
1. Green Bay Packers
In about three weeks the Packers schedule will be analyzed by everyone to figure out if they can go undefeated. With the way A-Rod has been playing I would not doubt it for a second.
Lock of the week
Seattle Seahawks 13 at Dallas Cowboys 31
San Fran 49ers 20 at Washington Redskins 21
Tampa Bay Bucs 26 at New Orleans Saints 34
New York Jets 30 at Buffalo Bills 23
Atlanta Falcons 27 at Indy Colts 10
Miami Dolphins 16 at Kansas City Chiefs 20
Cincinnati Bengals 14 at Tennessee Titans 17
Denver Broncos 14 at Oakland Raiders 20
St. Louis Rams 24 at Arizona Cardinals 27
New York Giants 24 at New England Patriots 35
Green Bay Packers 30 at San Diego Chargers 27
Game of the Week
Baltimore Ravens 16 at Pittsburgh Steelers 23
Monday NIght Football
Chicago Bears 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 28
Last week 9-5